Morgan State handed North Carolina Central its first loss in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play on Saturday, but the Bears (4-3 overall and 3-1 in the league) did so without what has become a usual expectation for running back Herb Walker Jr.
The redshirt sophomore had 17 carries in the Bears' 21-20 win at Hughes Stadium, but he was limited to 67 yards -- his worst outing since he replaced redshirt sophomore Lamont Brown III as the starter in Week 2.
Walker extended his touchdown streak to six games with a 4-yard run in the fourth quarter, but it was the first time that he was held to less than 100 rushing yards this year. Morgan State coach Lee Hull said the Eagles (3-4, 2-1) dropped a safety into the box to cut down on running lanes between the tackles.
"He's just got to watch the film and understand what teams are going to do to him," Hull said of Walker. "We have to, as coaches, do the same thing and figure out a way to get him going. It's only one game, and he's going to have games like that. Teams are copycats, and we know they're going to try to do what Central did. So we have our work cut out for us to try to get Herb going."
On the flipside, the attention paid to Walker may have contributed to redshirt senior quarterback Robert Council running for a game-high 122 yards on 22 attempts and scoring one touchdown in addition to throwing for 104 yards and the game-winning score to junior wide receiver Andrew King.
Hull said Walker, who gained just 16 yards on seven carries in the second half, should anticipate seeing opposing defenses force him to try to make gains on outside runs as North Carolina Central did. The Bears' next opponent, Villanova, may try to follow that game plan when Morgan State visits Saturday.
"They certainly did do a good job," Wildcats coach Andy Talley said Monday of the Eagles' defensive strategy. "I just watched that film yesterday, and there's certainly some things you can learn from that game. But I think what happened is the Morgan State quarterback had a great day. He ended up running the ball a lot. So it's not always going to be one guy.